NEW YORK — In an eleventh-hour reversal, superstar singer Plácido Domingo withdrew Tuesday from the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s “Macbeth” and indicated he would not return to the Met amid rising tensions over the company’s response to allegations that he had sexually harassed multiple women.
Domingo’s withdrawal on the eve of the performance — opening night is Wednesday — came as a growing number of people who work at the Met expressed concern about his upcoming performances. Other U.S. cultural institutions, including the Philadelphia Orchestra and San Francisco Opera, had already canceled Domingo’s upcoming appearances, citing the need to provide a safe workplace.
The backstage unease at the Met boiled over in recent days, including at a heated, sometimes emotional meeting that Peter Gelb, the company’s general manager, held with orchestra and chorus members after the “Macbeth” dress rehearsal Saturday afternoon. Some of those at the meeting questioned what Domingo’s return said about the Met’s commitment to protecting women and rooting out sexual harassment.
Three days later, Domingo said in a statement to The New York Times that he was dropping out of “Macbeth” — which was to have been his first U.S. performance since the sexual harassment allegations were reported last month. It sounded unlikely that he would ever be back to perform with the company.
“I am happy that, at the age of 78, I was able to sing the wonderful title role in the dress rehearsal of ‘Macbeth,’ which I consider my last performance on the Met stage,” he said. “I am grateful to God and the public for what they have allowed me to accomplish here at the Metropolitan Opera.”
The Domingo case roiled the Met, which is still recovering from the firing of its former music director, James Levine, last year amid accusations of sexual misconduct. In the -MeToo era, it also raised questions about how institutions deal with accusations of sexual harassment or abuse, even those that emerge outside their walls.
Zeljko Lucic, a baritone scheduled to appear as Macbeth later in the run, is to take over for Domingo.